Faux fur not faking it anymore
The fashion headlines in 2015 talked about the explosion of the fur market, worth some $40 billion (2014 figures), a volume explained in part by growing Chinese demand, along with fur’s arrival in men’s wear collections.
The numbers have slightly changed since then. Asked about the shift, the International Fur Federation does admit there is a new dynamic. 2015 saw an overproduction of animal skins, due to a slow down in both the Chinese and Russian markets, exacerbated by the oil crisis. This economic context was a major drag on the fur market, “despite, a return to normal in 2016,” says the federation.
Amidst such a backdrop now comes the rise of faux fur, a market that is reportedly growing. Ready-to-wear brands are increasingly interested in the synthetic material, led by the likes of Stella McCartney. The English brand Shrimps, known for its bright colored faux furs, now also shows during the official London Fashion Week calendar and has seduced high-profile accounts like Colette in Paris and Net-A-Porter And even luxury brands are crossing the line into the faux fur world, such as Miu Miu, whose invitation to its recent Paris Fashion Week runway were lined in fake fur. Meanwhile, the list of “anti-fur” brands continues to grow: Ralph Lauren, a pioneer in the movement, Hugo Boss, H&M, Topshop or the recent addition of The Kooples.
Last year, this burgeoning sector even got its own advocate, the Faux Fur Institute. Its founder Arnaud Brunois says that this year around 220 brands used almost exclusively faux fur in their collections, some of which combined both fake and real fur.
“Even though no official figures are currently available, the boom in fake fur is obvious from the catwalks to clothing store shelves,” he says, “and fake fur is countering the declining fur market, whose 2015 sales figures no longer relate to the current reality.” Still in its infancy, the organization dedicated to faux fur confirms the trend, pointing to the sales of fake fur producers. “Overall, faux fur brands are seeing a 10% increase in orders in the last six months, such as the British Throw Company,” says Arnaud Brunois. “And our goal is to maintain this trend through various initiatives: a website and blog organized similar to the Fur Federation blog and its design competitions for students.”
Such observations were somewhat confirmed by the most recent edition of the Tranoï trade fair in Paris, which welcomed a number of faux fur brand exhibitors. Furry, Utzon 51vs49 and Suprema are just some of the companies specialized in synthetic fur, and their numbers will likely grow in the coming years. Among the Tranoï exhibitors was newcomer Fuzz, the creation of Swiss designer Nadja Axarlis, former buyer for the Swiss luxury department store Bongénie Grieder, who was presenting her faux fur line for the first time.
“I kept hearing my friends talk about how they no longer wanted to wear real fur and complaining about the poor quality and lack of style in available synthetic fur. So I decided to launch my own line, with the idea of creating an elegant and upscale product that looks real,” said the designer. Fuzz faux fur is made in a Parisian workshop that has specialized in fake fur for over 30 years. Some of its employees come from the real fur industry. Using made in Europe textiles, Axarlis' first coat collection revisits the great classics of real fur coats but in an upscale, faux fur version. Prices vary between 500 and 1100 euros.
The price point is partly based on the coats’ quality and the synthetic fur’s amazing resemblance to the real thing, “even to the point that it fooled Peta activists,” says Nadja Axarlis.
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